Lady Eagles look for top regional finish

Published 12:02 am Friday, May 11, 2012

Pleasant Home’s Mary Schwartz said the Lady Eagles are looking to win the regional tournament this weekend. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Pleasant Home is back at full strength as the Lady Eagles begin their bid for a state tournament berth today at the Class 1A South Regional Tournament in Gulf Shores.

The Lady Eagles will begin their 12th straight appearance at the tournament against McIntosh. McIntosh enters as the runner up from Area 1, which was a two-team area.

PHS beat Brantley — also in the regional tournament — 7-2 in the area championship to get the No. 1 seed.

And that’s where PHS senior Mary Schwartz said the team wants to be at the regional finals.

“We’d like to be the No. 1 seed,” Schwartz said. “We tried that last year, but it just didn’t work out. Right now, our goal is to of course go to state.

“But, right now beating McIntosh (is the focus),” she said.

Last season, the Lady Eagles fell in the regional finals to former area foe and rival Kinston. KHS is also in the tournament bracket.

PHS coach Bradley Stephens said it’s going to come down to “three teams.”

“I feel good about the tournament,” Stephens said. “We have just as good of a chance of winning it as anybody. I really feel like this year at the tournament, it’s going to be between three teams.

“It’s just a matter of who shows up and plays,” he said. “We’re just going to try and stay focused and get passed the first game. We don’t look beyond that. You work to win the first game, and then you move to the second game.”

After a runner up finish last year, the tenth-ranked Lady Eagles (25-13) went on to the state tournament and finished in third place. Kinston knocked PHS out of the tournament in the loser’s bracket championship.

Stephens said he knows there could be a chance where the team will face the Lady Bulldogs again.

“With us winning our area, Kinston will have to go through Brantley to get there,” he said. “We’ll have to get through either Sweet Water or Florala to get there. We have that to look at.”

From a player’s perspective, Schwartz said playing Kinston is a “battle.”

“Everybody asks us, ‘how do you lose to Kinston?'” she said. “It’s not just a physical game. That game is like a battle between two schools. That game’s a mental game. You’ve got to think who wants it the most, and I can’t tell you how bad we want it (to win).”

Game time against McIntosh today is at 3:30 p.m. at the Sportsplex in Gulf Shores.